What’s Trendy in World Food?

Nov 28 2010

“Our minds are like our stomachs: they are whetted by the change of their food, and variety supplies both with fresh appetites.”  - Quintilian

“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.”  - Fran Lebowitz

Foodtrotter’s recent post on world food trends has some great insights into new trends in food and drink around the world, and most of them are relevant in Asia too (based on my recent experiences), so here is a quick summary.

#1 Food trucks - the idea of street food is certainly not new to Asia!  One of the most enjoyable aspects of KL, Bangkok, Jakarta or any Chinese city is the wide range of food that is available on the street from portable/mobile vendors, and my own experience is that this is often the  best food available in the country.  Also let’s not forget Fran Lebowitz’s quote, and the great availability of mobile cocktail bars in Bangkok (and elsewhere)!

#2 Korean food - I’ve always loved Korean food, and there are certainly several great Korean restaurants I have enjoyed in Singapore, Jakarta, Shanghai as well as closer to home.  Korean food seems to be on the rise around the world (and about time too), following the love of Korean pop music and soap operas.  The mix of barbecued meat, salad, variety and it’s link to social drinking is unbeatable!

#3 Japanese Izakaya - the mixing of drinking and eating is very popular across Asia, especially in the northern Asian countries.  I used to love such a bar in Shanghai when I lived there, and look forward to seeing more around Asia.

#4 Burger Bars - Asians have always loved their comfort foods.  While burgers are less popular in Asia, there has been a trend towards premiumisation of such outlets, with many new ‘gourmet’ outlets for burgers and other comfort foods in Singapore and elsewhere.  One of my favourite bars in Singapore is also home to a speciality burger joint, and expect to see more such outlets as the market for comfort food develops.

#5 Going Local - the growth of local ingredients and local products will not be a surprise to any Asian food caterer, who have always relied on the best local ingredients to provide the most authentic, natural and tasty meals. While the rest of the world catches up with the need to provide authentic experiences which minimise carbon footprint, I am sure Asian restaurants will continue to focus on what they do best.

#6 Tapas - Tapas has always been a great way to mix drinking with small and tasty snacks, and this approach to eating and drinking out has always informed the eating habits in many Asian markets such as Korea and Japan. Globally, the Tapas movement has broadened its influences to the inclusion of Asian bite-sized meals, and this is sure to become more and more popular across Asia with a mix of influences providing tasty snacks to accompany any social occasion.

#7 Northern Chinese food - while Cantonese food is widespread and popular across Asia, a new wave of emigrants is driving interest in a more diverse appreciation of Chinese cooking. This will bring a much richer variety of Chinese meals to the attention of Asian diners, and a  much more nuanced view of the range and quality of Chinese dishes.

#8 Head to Toe - The Chinese have always made maximum use of every body part of animals. to make the most efficient use of food sources.  This is now becoming the norm in other countries, from Asia to Latin America, ensuring that in times of economic challenge, maximum value is obtained from every food source and ingredient.

These trends show how Asian food culture is not only reaching the rest of the world, but being influenced by global trends to reinvent and re-energise it’s strong and rich traditions to feed Asia’s consumers of today.

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